Although this is our final volume of Pied Piper material, it is almost certainly not the end of the history of this short-lived but influential company. It features more exciting tape finds, and there is even a little-known Pied Piper record from King Louie’s Court. No doubt more tapes and acetates will emerge over time, and if so we’ll endeavour to include them on appropriate future collections.
The story of the Joe Douglas and Yvonne Baker Philly productions has yet to be fully revealed; if only some more witnesses would come forward. Our alternate version of Douglas’ ‘Crazy Things’ remains a mystery. Jack Ashford can’t remember who is singing on this original take but he is certain he only ever cut it on one artist; the backing track may have been recycled without his knowledge for the Douglas 45.
Likewise, the story behind Rose Batiste’s ‘This Heart Is Lonely’ is still shrouded in the mists of uncertainty. Here we feature the sumptuous backing track to the vocal we released on our first Pied Piper collection. We have kept some of the girly vocals from Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent to differentiate it from the plain instrumental backing track issued two years later as ‘Bari Track’, oddly as by a white singer called Doni Burdick. That 45 became a Northern Soul monster in 70s England but is presented here in its purest form from the original 1965 multi-track tape, now titled ‘The Bari Sax’ in tribute to the great saxophonist Mike Terry.
Willie Kendrick gives us first takes of ‘American Dollar’ and ‘Watch Yourself (She’s Fooling You)’, unknown tracks until featured on our “Rare Collectable And Soulful” CDs in the 90s. The most exciting find is Lorraine Chandler’s ‘Ease My Mind’, a previously undocumented Pied Piper song and recording found languishing in Jack’s Just Production tapes. The alternate early version of Lorraine’s ‘She Don’t Want You’ sounds terrific too. The Hesitations and Freddie Butler tracks are taken from their Kapp LPs and demonstrate that Pied Piper was more than just a dance label. Reggie Alexander’s Boss label rarity ‘It’s Better’ was very popular in the UK throughout the 80s and 90s, while September Jones’ sumptuous ‘I’m With You’ makes its digital debut after sneaking out on vinyl in France a few years ago.
The Metros’ excellent ‘No Baby’ is the only one of their RCA recordings to never have been on CD before and their superb ballad ‘Sweetest One’ was their only R&B hit. The musicians get their turn with instrumentals of ‘What Can I Do’, ‘I’d Like To Know’ and ‘Love Will Find A Way’, demonstrating their immense musical skills. Nancy Wilcox’s ‘Gambler’s Blues’ comes from recently unearthed mastertape for the first time and the Cavaliers’ ‘We Go Together’ is the first digital release for the compelling rap-intro version. Finally, two more productions, belatedly released on Sport and Boss in 1967/8 by the Four Sonics and the Persians, wrap up the Pied Piper musical journey shortly before Just Productions was launched.
This is a high quality ending to a fascinating story of Detroit soul talent making music that transcended all but Hitsville and connected with UK soul fans like no other.